Sleep all day. Party all night. Never grow old. Never die. It’s fun to be a vampire.
The slick, youth oriented vampire film The Lost Boys creates a new style of horror film for the 80s where it’s cool to be a kid!
Based on the trailer, The Lost Boys is a modern telling of a vampire story in which teenagers are cursed in the California town of Santa Carla. It appears to be a mix of standard vampire fare, a teenage coming of age/romance film and comedic elements with the two weird kids who seem to know a lot about vampires. There’s a lot to sink your teeth into in this film so let’s dive in.
Presented below is the trailer for the film.
The coastal town of Santa Carla, also known as the murder capital of the world, welcomes the Emerson family who are coming to say with their Grandfather after their mothers divorce. Michael (Jason Patric) notices a girl on the boardwalk, named Star (Jami Gertz), and quickly becomes infatuated. The bad boys that she hangs out with don’t seem to like Michael. These “lost boys” led by David (Kiefer Sutherland) attempt to embarrass and kill Mike, before deciding to make him “one of them.”
Meanwhile, his younger brother Sam (Corey Haim) becomes friends with two nerdy, survivalist boys, Edgar and Alan Frog (Corey Feldman & Jamison Newlander) who work at the local comic shop and fancy themselves as vampire hunters. They provide Sam with information about Santa Carlas’s vampire problem along with comics on how to stop the bloodsuckers.
Their mother, Lucy (Dianne Weist) finds a job, and romance, at the local video store. She begins dating the owner Max (Edward Herrmann), who Sam and the Frog Brothers believe is the head vampire. In trying to prove it they ruin Lucy’s date. Michael has his own problems as he’s been rendered undead by drinking some of David’s blood. He begs Sam to help.
Realizing that Michael and Star are only half-vampires, Sam and the Frogs set out to the Lost Boys cave to rescue them and kill the head vampire. Not knowing which of the four vampires is the head, they stake the nearest one, Marko (Alex Winter), who dies with such noise that he awakens the others. That night, David and the other two vamps set out to turn Michael and kill the others.
The Frog Brothers prepare squirt guns filled with holy water and they close the windows and doors. The Lost Boys attack and Sam and the Frogs kill off the two cronies, while David and Michael go head-to-head. Impaling the supposed head vampire on antelope horns doesn’t seem to change the fact that Michael is still a vampire. Lucy and Max show up, and he reveals he’s the leader of the Lost Boys, hoping to get Lucy to join as a mother figure. Grandpa (Barnard Hughes) arrives, crashing through the front door and impaling Max with a giant wooden stake. Grandpa remarks that he’s never been able to stomach the vampires in Santa Carla, revealing he knew about the problem all along.
“Even though you’re a vampire, you’re still my brother.” – Sam
The Lost Boys is an updated vampire myth for modern audiences, much like Fright Night was two years previous. In this case, rather than a vampire moving into town next door to the protagonist, the new family moves into Santa Carla, a vampire-infected town. It also continues an 80s trend of films with youthful protagonists fighting bad guys, such as the action-oriented Red Dawn and The Goonies, or the more horror related The Monster Squad and Night of the Comet. The Lost Boys non-horror elements also follow closely with a popular film from 1984, The Karate Kid. In both films the new kid moves to a coastal California town and becomes interested in a girl that is also friends of the “bad kids.”
The film also take a cue from JM Barrie’s Peter Pan, with the use of the name “Lost Boys,” which are a group of orphaned kids in Neverland looking for a mother figure in Wendy. Star functions as a surrogate Wendy figure, taking care of the youngest lost boy, Laddie. But this is only one of the movies red herrings, as the group is actually looking at Lucy to be the mother. The other big red herring, that is used as part of the comedy in the film is the scene where the boys attempt to prove Max is a vampire. From garlic, to holy water, to a mirror – none of their tactics work. It’s later revealed that it’s due to having invited Max inside, which was a relatively new rule for cinematic vampires, which I can only remember Fright Night using previously. That invitation has negated the power of these relics over the vampire.
Between the horror elements, the comedy, and the music, The Lost Boys is a really enjoyable and fun vampire film without being too scary or bloody. It is respectful of the vampire mythos while seeming fresh and current. An interesting setup during the opening credits presents a beautiful seaside town, with a lovely, welcoming billboard. But the backside of the billboard is covered with graffiti proclaiming “Murder Capital of the World.” This foreshadows the dark underbelly of the town that not many choose to see, with the vampires hiding in plain sight.
- This film marked the first team-up of Corey Haim and Corey Feldman, in what would be a series of movies together including License to Drive (1988) and Dream a Little Dream (1989).
- While Twilight gets a lot of clap back over the use of “sparkly” vampires, The Lost Boys actually features the first use of trope, twenty years earlier. After The Frogs kill Marko, and are sprayed with his blood, you can see the sparkliness of it in the following escape.
- The film contains many references to other horror films including:
- Sam and Michael referring to Grandpa’s house as something out The Texas Chain Saw Massacre.
- Grandpa’s taxidermy collection echoing those of Norman Bates in Psycho.
- A Once Bitten poster in the video store, which is a vampire comedy starring Jim Carrey.
- In the Lost Boys cave, there’s a poster for Munster Go Home, a film version of the comedy horror show The Munsters. Also after Laddie “vamps out” Edgar refers to him as “attack of Eddie Munster!”
Having grown up on comics, television and film, “Jovial” Jay feels destined to host podcasts and write blogs related to the union of these nerdy pursuits. Among his other pursuits he administrates and edits stories at the two largest Star Wars fan sites on the ‘net (Rebelscum.com, TheForce.net), and co-hosts the Jedi Journals podcast over at the ForceCast network.